Knowledge, as represented in the history of ideas and in studies of knowledge paradigms and bibliographical structures, appears coherent and rationalistic. By examining the work of the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault, this view is discussed. Special attention is given, in any cultural or scientific interpretation of an age, to the need to get behind the dominant or hegemonistic body of institutionalized and documented knowledge. We need to investigate the assumptions and underlying influences on the ways in which discourse embody and shape meanings. What preconceptually underpins, we might ask, what people know as knowledge. Important links between language, truth and power are examined, and these are major concerns for Foucault. It is argued that Foucault's ‘archaeological’ and ‘genealogical’ insights into the nature of warranted knowledge are crucial for an understanding of the communication process and the knowledge‐organizing activities of information specialists.
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